Cycle Routes
Francisca Salas For lofscapes
(Text And Cartography, Francisca Salas P)
(1) View from the Bridge Las Vertientes © Francisco Salas H. for LOFscapes / (2) The mountains peek timidly around every curve © Francisco Salas H. for LOFscapes / (3) Encountering the Maipo River © Francisco Salas H. for LOFscapes / (4) A second encounter with the river with the mountains at the back, © Francisco Salas H. for LOFscapes / (5) View from the Bridge El Toyo © Francisco Salas H. for LOFscapes


Passion linked with a competitive spirit is what defines the road cyclist, who uses the bicycle as a daily means of transport and also seeks new challenges, such as how to spend more time cycling or how to improve performance.  Given the recent celebration of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, this week we invite you to discover a new cycle route along El Camino el Toyo in the Cajón del Maipo, where there is an interplay of landscape in movement, geography, and sporting technique and performance.

As a training route for sport cyclists, the Toyo route in San José de Maipo includes a stretch of 22 km between the bridges that cross the Maipo River: Las Vertientes and El Toyo. The route is on the south side of the river and weather permitting, the sun accompanies the route at all times. The sounds of the river, the wind, the sparse traffic of pedestrians and motorized vehicles give this route an added value for sports cycling. Due to its expanse, it is a tough stretch both for outbound and return (going from Las Vizcachas to San Gabriel). On this road there are pronounced descents, steep climbs, sharp turns (both uphill and downhill) and flat sections. It is a complete circuit in its form and execution.

In particular, what makes Toyo a special circuit is the strong presence of the wind called “El Raco.” Remembering that the wind is a decisive factor when training or competing, the cyclist who leads the route receives all the force of the wind so that his/her exertion is greater in comparison to the cyclists who ride behind. Depending on the time of day, the wind gusts present on the route can be with, against or lateral to the cyclist and depending on the agility, dexterity and strength of the cyclist will define how he/she confronts it. Because of the Raco, this route is especially positioned as a practice and training circuit.

Located on the southern slope that borders the Maipo River, the landscape reveals its dynamic and seasonal conditions, changing along the way. One of its remarkable features is at kilometer 11, when it descends to approximately 10 m above the river level, revealing the powerful flow of the river. On the Toyo route, the noise of the water, the changes of vegetation and the diversity of rocky materials invite you to stop and contemplate the distant landscape. However, given that when training there are no moments to pause, the landscape is seen from a kind of photogram; it is like a mental selection, a sequence of images that allows us to build the surrounding landscape as we travel: its own mode of visualizing on wheels. 

At the end of the circuit (around 20 km, before the El Toyo bridge), it is possible to find some supply points.  Here, you can stop to eat something and relax for a moment with the mountain range in the background, the sound of the river and the birds. At this point, the vegetation begins to cover the road, indicating the route is coming to its end, which in theory is half the route since here one should turn around to continue back.

Road cycling allows an environment to be discovered that many times we cannot appreciate because we are inserted in the urban dynamic offered by the city. However, because the Toyo Camino is only 30 minutes from downtown Santiago, the cycle route of this week is one to be considered when training, taking advantage of the route to combine landscape in movement and geography. 

Francisco Salas H. is an architect and holds a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. She is also a triathlete who is passionate about sports route cycling.

(6) Cartography Camino El Toyo Route © Francisco Salas H. for LOFscapes